Samantha Zenarosa

Campus Missionary, Carleton University
samantha.zenarosa@cco.ca
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My name is Sam and I’m really excited to work for CCO on campus this year. I love reading books, iced tea, a really sunny day and my beautiful family. There’s my hardworking and funny dad Richard, sweet and caring mama Camille, and 2 younger trouble-making siblings. My brother Nathan is my best friend, we can laugh about anything and count on each other, he wows me everyday as a young man. My little sister Alessandra is like a mini me, she’s outspoken, loves art and bears a heart for the world.

I grew up Catholic, and moved to Canada at nine years old. My parents did their best to keep faith in our lives by going to mass every week and putting us through Catholic education. By the time I was entering high school, I thought that people could only love, accept and be proud of me when I was a good and perfect daughter. I seemed to only show people and God what I wanted them to see. This began my restless search to be loved and accepted, starting with the pressures I felt from my family to be a perfect student and daughter turning me away from them.
Unfortunately, I turned to my friends and social media for acceptance and love, which spiraled into a lifestyle of unhealthy habits that led to short-lived happiness and empty comforts. This led to sin in my life that brought shame, brokenness and walls in my heart…never had I felt more alone in my life. The worse things became the further I strayed from Jesus, it was so hard for me to believe that with my past he would love me still.

Before my first semester, I battled anxieties and fears of failure. That’s when I came across CCO on Simon Fraser University campus, was shared the UR and took a group faith study called Discovery. During the fifth lesson, reflecting on my relationship with Jesus revealed to me that there were still chains and walls holding me back from the past. I had the opportunity to go to confession for the first time in 4 years at an Adoration event with CCO called Summit, but I approached that confession with a closed heart. I wasn’t open yet. I realized that I couldn’t change and grow without knowing him and choosing him… but I couldn’t go to him because of my brokenness. I desired freedom, I didn’t feel free because of my sins and felt like I need to try confession one more time. I had the opportunity to go to confession with a friend in the last week of January 2018. I asked for grace before I confessed and I believed that Jesus was there in the confessional with me, and that he didn’t care about my sins nearly as much as he cared about me. I fully let him into my heart regardless of my weakness and offering that up to him felt so right inside. I remember kneeling in the pew with a smile across my face from joy and peace, thinking I want this every week, all the time, I will choose this for the rest of my life. That day, my encounter with God showed me what Saint Pope John Paul II reminds us,

“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

Since then, I responded to this ache I would have when someone would walk by our sign-up table and the happiness I would feel in my chest whenever I got to introduce a newcomer to the community by becoming a campus missionary! University is a roller coaster of not knowing who you are, being unsure of what’s right and searching for somewhere to be that claims us as their own with love and security. That is why I want to work for CCO with university students, as my life changed from the bold ask of another “Would you like to put Christ at the center of your life?” and to encountering Jesus, experiencing healing and spiritual growth in community; to find other “Sams” out there and renew the world one by one with CCO. I’ll be working alongside the staff team at Carleton University in Ottawa!

ONGOING PRAYER REQUESTS

For the students we are about to meet, may they come with open hearts to hear the Gospel message and personal relationship with Jesus.